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A special issue of the journal Nutrients has recently been published that analyzes the link between new school food nutrient standards and childhood obesity, diet, and racial and ethnic disparities. Overall, this study found that the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has positively impacted school food, creating more inclusive lunchroom environments that enhance school-age children’s wellbeing and health.

A special issue of the journal Nutrients has recently been published that analyzes the link between new school food nutrient standards and childhood obesity, diet, and racial and ethnic disparities. Overall, this study found that the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has positively impacted school food, creating more inclusive lunchroom environments that enhance school-age children’s wellbeing and health.

Background and Implementation of the Study

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) put in place nutrient standards that include daily and weekly requirements of fruit, vegetable, and whole grain components as well as limits on sodium, calories, and saturated fats. After this policy was enacted, the USDA collected data through the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (SNMCS). The 15 studies included in this special issue drew their information from this study, which is the most comprehensive school nutrition study to date as well as the first nationally representative one.

The Findings

The study initially found that the quality of the school food being served had increased dramatically since 2010 or the beginning of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The meals’ nutritional value increased almost by half and the use of sodium decreased significantly while whole grains were utilized more and more. Secondly, the schools that participated in healthier school lunch programs were able to increase participation across the board, helping students from food-insecure homes have more access to the meals they need. The implementation of the HHFKA also decreased the difference in nutrition between meals, reducing inequities in terms of socioeconomic status and race. Finally, the study found that the stronger the micro school food policies are, the more they will bolster national meal standards. This all suggests the significance of national school food regulations and requirements in bringing about progressive change with our children’s diets.

In Conclusion

These results provided by Nutrients show how important national policy is in increasing the health of our children. Additionally, it opens up an important conversation about implications of such work and its effects on school food’s future. The impact of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has been cumulatively positive, creating more nutritious lunchroom environments throughout the country that not only fight social inequities but also bring about the wellbeing of millions.

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